Bitten or bugged by Lola Nidora’s uptight and old manners? Are you fascinated by her sisters’ Lola Tidora and Tinidora comic relief to old paradigms of morals?
It amuses me because it captures theessence of old Bicolano families deep in the practice of customs that reflect generations of Hispanic heritage and tradition. The script presents roles portrayed in an unconventional manner but remain true to their character. Hilarious and light but deeply rooted. The essentially old in a different approach representing
something we are all familiar with. Resurrected in a new face, the old meets the new. The sisters show the equanimity between past and present in a transitioning fashion. So it’s easily caught. They blend so well that the transition is seamless but, of course, the exaggeration is there to create satire. Lifting what determines the flow of life lies embedded in the subconscious and what is important in the heart. It amazes me to ponder that, still, what is important is invisible to the eye as the soul captures it. Rising to popular mass patronage, it resonates with what is valuable to every viewer and what binds human communities around is the same principle – altruistic love and respect. While the dramedy is an odd setting, it is reminiscent of families. The way we treat one another is significant in unfolding the beauty of persons and lasting relationships. How emotions and reasons are managed to evolve a beautiful connection among individuals makes the noontime fare a notch above its perceived peers, ratings or no ratings.
It is pang-masa in the sense that it does not have the eloquence of speech but, rather, plain roadside or colloquial language. Neither does it have the prestige of a beautiful stage but the plainness of different barangays that is the actual stage of the theme portrayed. Tidbits of etiquette to perk up today’s chaotic teenage life restoring order.
A timely soap opera responding to a common issue as courtship and addressing a certain social sector, the Child and the Adolescent. Health concerns such as early pregnancy, low birth weight, premature babies, physical and emotional immaturity to assume maternal or paternal roles is an offshoot of dysfunctional families where there is lack of structure and order in the homes. The basic breakdown in the integration of Child is what leads to failed relationships. The adolescent is not yet fully integrated to fit into roles and relationships or, worst of all, the adult is not integrated to function as parent. The impaired integration of the Child refers to the capacity to act, to feel and to think holistically and independently. A whole child and whole parent means psychologically, emotionally and spiritually integrated.
Having a great breakfast conversation with a consultant and good friend on Adolescent Medicine; Dra. Alicia Tamesis is worth the while. Adolescence – is no easy transition. Defined and expected changes eclipse welcoming the foreground of adulthood.
An interestingly popular Lunchtime TV show ALDUB hatched an exciting conversational piece jolting laughter drawing similar experiences. Following through Lola Nidora’s popular tweets; we shared common views about the three sisters’ etiquette on courtship. Writing about friendship and courtship is a response to the good doctor’s request to tell my story. To describe how I was admired, appreciated and loved in ways that any
woman would gladly receive. Presenting archetypes of men whose kind gestures showed wide expressions of care.
Growing up in one of the old and prominent families, comes with a different set of expectation and standards to follow. Much with the popularity that accompanies it is a life lived in a fish bowl. Conventional rules are considered important and good name valued. Living under the shadow of someone else is difficult. Pride and Prejudice will always find its expression. That is where the character of Nidora, Tidora and Tinidora comes into being. I was raised in a home with real Lola Nidora, Tidora and Tinidora around adding spice to my life from childhood. Brought up in a blast from the past keeping in touch with a transitioning stage to modernity is a life forged out of three existing cultures in a blend of time. Living and growing in a colonial city rich in culture and tradition churned varied experiences enriching my attitude towards, understanding of and the appreciation for love and life. Frequent travels to neighbouring regions and countries balanced polarities and widened horizon. “kalye serye” brings laughter to the millions of television audiences. To me it is a slice of a cherished life, memoir of good friends and the difference people make.
The usual wardrobe fight between mothers and teenage daughters is what to wear is. For as long as I can remember my clothes were especially designed and stitched for me passing through the criteria of my family. Custom made shoes included. A home grown fashion designer and family friend would create feminine and classic clothes for every occasion I attend. More like a Barbie doll perhaps. Age appropriate only meant No minis, spaghetti straps or tube blouse or backless for a young child. On the contrary, I did not have any qualms about my clothes. The taste and style for the classic exquisite and the simple elegant had always been my preference. So, I did not argue much about the design. The sensitivity for finer things flowed from my Muslim heritage having descended from a Muslim princess as I was told in my adult life. At a young age, I was already part of many social gatherings. Dressing up was more like a common thing.
Being at the centre of the public eye was handed down from generations, My great great grandfather Don Antonio and Dona Emeteria, followed by General Ludovico my great grandfather and Cong. Tomas my great grand uncle were considered “Illustrado”. In the old Philippine context when you are addressed as Don, it signifies affluence and aristocracy. There is always great expectation with power, fame and fortune. Educated in the oldest and finest university in the Philippines then in Spain, they saw the necessity for change and so goes the story. Friends with Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, acquainted with General Luna and the rest, my family passed through the same litmus test challenging the strength of personality in the midst of power and fame. Popularity trickles on me as the great great granddaughter. In college, I was referred to as the General’s granddaughter, which means I carry that same relentless spirit and determination as my Lolo and eloquence of speech and language as my linguist lolo uncle Tomas. However, it never dawned upon me how my ancestors played a significant role in the making the history of the Philippines until an Ateneo professor came forward to interview me as the one of direct descendant. A tight lid was on it so as not to deprive me of growing up in a natural way. I was raised in a way distinct from the rest of my peers. Despite the pressure, I etched my own name in school. I was allowed to play only within our own lawn. When the bell rings for “Angelus” I stop from doing anything to recite our evening prayers. I must be inside the house before six in the evening. Basically environmentally empathic home ground child makes stiff household rules irrelevant. They were overly protective. I was not rebellious of the household discipline just unconventional with my ideas and perception of life – Being the dreamer and artist that I am. I was too busy dreaming under the cascading bougainvillea flowers.
Parties are not a remote thing for me, but this is not the Children’s party as you might think. I learned to conduct myself in the middle of public eye early on in life. After all, the Hermano y Hermana mayor, the mayor, the senadora, the Kora Paroko, the so and so and the what – what were either friends or relatives. The etiquette of a lady – the prim and proper way includes choosing the appropriate dress expected at all times.
“Not too high to show my knees, never too low below the neck to reveal the chest, never too tight to show the contour of your breast, not too thin to betray your soul, not to expose your shoulder and arms, not too much make up that you are likely to be in a “kabuki”, not too much jewelry that you look like a Christmas tree, not a pair of shoe that makes no difference between a foot stool and a heeled shoe, never too flashy with fabrics or choice of colours nor must it resemble the rainbow, not the style that looks like drapes on you, not too shiny during day ceremonies, colours for certain occasions, always carry a handkerchief in a purse, never too loud with your clothes, words, decency in your actions, keep your language and manners at all times. A lady is seen not heard from a distance, nor must your clothes scream before you or betray your integrity as a decent woman worthy of respect and finally with one look from my Lola Nana, I catch the message faster than the uttered word. Keep your long hair neatly tucked.”
The clothes that I wore was something family, friends and people would always anticipate. Even as it seems impossible to follow my family’s preferences, it is in my nature to wear natural fabrics, light colours in simple or classic design. Thanks to Jo, Tata, and Mimay, for putting best effort in creating the gowns that I wore, the Sunday clothes and my dresses graced all my days. Each piece has a story to tell, for every embroidered rose, for each bead, glass stone or pearl on my dress is thought of, not just a spur of the moment.
My life is an interesting piece of journey. In college, I had a lot of fun with my teachers, friends and classmates. Taking up Psychology in the University I had the chance to meet more fine young people. At first it was quite awkward for me as I always studied in exclusive girl school all my life. In class, I used to be seated in the last row because of my surname and usually the first person before the boys row. Appearing silent, aloof and composed all the time, I am taken as the stereotype of a Snob. In time I got used to having boys as classmates working comfortably with them in our Class plays, Outreach programs, Class Trips and discussions. In college, I was given a much freedom to move around without a chaperone but at home visitors are expected to follow certain protocols such call before you visit, leave your shoes before entering the door, “mano po” as a sign of respect to the elders. My Aunties and Lola were quite particular about manners. It runs in all of my kins.
Those years were the best time in school. Being in a mixed school campus, to be treated as a lady makes a lot of difference. My classmates would offer a seat or pull a chair. Along the corridors, they would make way for me to pass. Isn’t that great? It was good to be treated nicely. I grew up with refinement at home, in school and in the community I belong, though I still am treated with the same regard at this current time. Today, with the changing gender equality roles, I am delighted to meet people who stand and offer his chair. Open an umbrella for me or let me pass first. It means a lot most especially of these people are not your acquaintance. A pleasant good morning from the guards to the passing tricycle driver or a pleasant good afternoon from taxi driver or a ma’am from a jeepney driver, the barangay marshal, who regularly calls the taxi and opens the door for me, all shows from then and now – Chivalry is not dead, the gentleman died. It is the choice of behaviour and wordsthat makes a man obnoxious and obscure.
From our English Literature Class, I had friends sent nicely written poems or verses. I did not reply to any of it but I was grateful for every poem. Every word thoughtfully picked and gently put together is a masterpiece. Not
too bold, just enough to tickle your imagination with images to dress the care that comes with it. The effort to make something beautiful and artistic makes it special. It stands timeless for its gesture not for its perfection in meter and rhyme. However he was a poet, so it was well written. We were lucky to have a superb Literature Teacher Prof. Doods Santos who guide us in writing lovely poems.
On one occasion in the University, it was black out and pitch dark in the hallway. Two of my classmates gladly walked me through the hallway with a tiny flashlight and down the stairs until we got to the school gate. It was great to have someone look after you. It was his kind gesture that made me admire him not in an affectionate manner but I was happy to see gentle manners practiced. It is learned from home and lived through the community that puts importance on women’s welfare. To get the attention of a woman, be a gentleman. Eventually, he became one of growing circle of my friends.
Our Psychology class was fun. Clinical Psychologist Lynette Mendoza was firm but democratic in her approach. One day I was in the library reading when a favourite classmate came in asking about our homework. A bright boy, I guess he was tired from playing basketball and copied verbatim. When all our papers came back I got a “C” for a grade, I felt embarrassed it was my lowest grade ever. A “C” for a grade will definitely hurt being a dean’s lister. I wanted to get mad but I couldn’t even bring myself to roar but purr. But nevertheless the grade wasn’t an issue, it is just a grade. When our paths crossed in the hallway I decided to hide in the Ladies Bath. A standoff. He on the other hand stood by door waiting outside calling out “Sorry Malou”. I was not ready to talk yet. As the bell rang ending the night class, I came out of my hiding place. To my surprise, out of nowhere he cried out loudly “Maria Lourdes de Vera, I am sorry” from the school gate to everyone’s listening pleasure and public knowledge as it appeared seemingly as a lover’s fight. I was too prudish to handle things like that and I felt a little silly. A “sorry” is big deal for men but to women its nothing that which blows the dark clouds away or brighten a bad hair day. Above all it is a girl thing. If there was something worth appreciating; it was his persistence and creative ways of reaching out in the most unusual manner. “Sorry” simply meant that the friend is greater than the hurt caused. Keep the friend resolve the harm done. Friendships are unconditional. Having a soft heart in a harsh world is courage on his part. In life’s journey, an apology is just being considerate of the person next to you. Not to take it for granted. It saves you from all the explanation when sincerely expressed at the right me. It heals friendships and connections faster. I cherished his courage for doing something outlandish and funny.
In my Zoology class, a friend gave his gentle white cat as charming as he was. Truly, I have been blessed with kind people, who respected and treated me gently. Wonderful gifts like the first painting, the first bloom of their planted anthuriums, or their best crafted bonsai showered on. A hand made card, to a beaded belt, a handpicked rose or a scented oil lamp, a collection of jazz music – all to please a friend or regarded more than as a friend affirms the woman within.
He searched high and low to bring me a bunch of pretty hibiscus. That is not an easy task living in the city. A couple of wild flowers is enough to make me smile. Even as time has passed, I have always appreciated their kindest gesture. The thought of it brings a smile because every good deed shines like a bright star. It was not so much of how grand a gift is or can be. It carries a message from the heart that deserves to be heard. While every token is a gesture of admiration and affection. A sincere suitor deserves an honest answer. The best answer is one that is closest to your soul. And I believe every Lady knows how to respond in a graceful manner. Choose the appropriate words to refuse without breaking a person, destroying a friend or losing friendship. You never know you will meet the same person again. But when the hurting is too much you may loose everything.
Accept a person whole heartedly with a celebrating soul.
Love finds you. One summer, I sat patiently in the airport lounge waiting for any update regarding my delayed flight home. A rushing and angered Balikbayan passenger to Cebu City whose flight was delayed for the third time chanced to see me. He smiled and kept me entertained as the hours poured. A man who likes you will not be skimp on showing his appreciation. Soon enough, he was called to board his flight to Cebu. A trail of pink roses followed me home and back to school in June where every token of admiration passed the watchful eye of my guardian “Lola Madre”. She was Sr. Consorcia, the Nursing Dean trusts me as every flower reaches me. A telegram sent with a bunch of roses certainly comes from him. He flew to Naga to see me and later on visited me in school.
Recognize and appreciate every gentleman for the person that he is but accept only the person whom you like the most – that is if you appreciate subtleties of Life as psyche and cupid classics from Greek Mythology, Pyramus and Thisbe found in Roman mythology, Pocahontas and John Smith, Lancelot and Guinevere, Romeo and Juliet in English literature, Tristan and Iseult drawn from an old Celtic story and Florante at Laura from the Philippine literature. I Think High school students must have time to read more classics to put fine imagination and refinement in friendships. There are many stories that inspire and give meaning as Shakuntala and Dushyant, Orpheus and Eurydice to include Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights, Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility. There is one that comes from the exotic Arabian story “Laila and Majnu.” It is based on the real story of a young man called Qays ibn al-Mullawah from the northern Arabian Peninsula, in the Umayyad era during the 7th century. The love story of “Laila and Majnu” is timeless albeit a tragic one. It takes more than Intellectual Quotient to make social communities work – emotional intelligence is likewise an important factor. Simply because you need the right question to get the right response.
For every rose, red, white or pink that lays on my table, for each wild flower, for every kind of flower comes with a name. It is good to understand the language of the Rose and the meaning of every flower. I think a gentleman knows that or because his mother taught him that. Or He will have to learn that by himself. Life is beautiful to preempt the blossoming friendship. It opens heart in its time. A friend and a lover are two different things. Some will remain as friends, some will fade but the Love of your life must be both.
The role of Love is to love and be loved. It rises above race, colour and creed. True love never runs out of a reason to stay. Is there really a love so true? It is finding one another soul. Someone who likes you just the way you are, accepts all the things you are and loves everything about you. Infatuation is when you find someone absolutely perfect, Love is when you realize that they aren’t perfect and it does not matter. The best love I think is one that awakens the soul, makes us expand, creates a flame in our hearts and finds fulfilment in each other. Fire is passion that burns where flame illuminates the heart and soul of the beloved and the loved.
No matter how you define Love, it does not reveal itself in familiar faces. To be cared for by people from all colours and creed – Simply be loved for all the things you are. The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are, the second greatest thing is being happy with what you are. I most thankful to parents and the gentlemen who appreciated and loved me for just the way I am. Love is universal if it is to be unconditional. Being cared for by different people, culture and religion means seeing beyond the structures you are raised with. Then and only then will you appreciate how much you are cared for. Love and relationships are not limited to contracts rather it is the perfection of the contract. It is the relationship that defines the stipulation of the contract. It is a commitment that surpasses both time and space. It is a bond that unites – the intangible requites. Above all it is knowing that you are simply meant for each other is where you begin. It is the smile that lasts with grey hair, wrinkled face and rickety bones.
The experience of being admired by Gentle people from different walks of life paved the understanding of the complexities of relationships or even casual acquaintances. Where culture and tradition plays a role, a rule of thumb however, is to never criticize anyone basing from your own point of view because it breeds contempt and hate which is a little too hard to nip from the bud. Learn to value the person for all that he is if you want to keep the relationship. Don’t be a littl
e too audacious judging people because perfection is an illusion. One may not be able to recover from it and a lifetime of regret follows. Learning how to curb unrealistic expectation liberates either party from being a Bigot. Remember that it is your attitude and gentleness that defines the relationship. Whether it is a matter of profession, of culture, of religion, of social status – it is a matter of complementariness and never competition. What might become a beautiful relationship dies with it. Entering into a relationship or even with casual friendship drop whatever prejudice you have and learn to look at every person with a new pair of eyes.
No matter what Men comes from Mars and Women comes from Venus. You never end courting the lady of your life because a relationship is not a goal. It is a journey together in time and space. She should always be. As for the Man of your life lead but never dominate, man has already evolved from being a caveman to a human being. The appreciation for one’s human nature is still basic in any relationship to stand the rigors of time and trials. Relationships don’t break because of third parties, it is already broken long before another person comes in or just maybe there was not a connection to begin with or was not established on solid ground.
In my late twenties, accepted by his clan, I met a well-educated and gentleman, an Oxford graduate Muslim, who proposed, I was barely in high school when an Egyptian pilot, whose parents proposed, and an African gentleman, whose father proposed then Filipino Engineer, whose father proposed. Admired by a French linguist and Athlete, A noted psychiatrist, a philosopher, a popular composer, a distinguished politician, the great grandson of a National hero and the grandson of a National artist. The experience humbled me more than take pride in it because it carries a responsibility of remaining a Lady. It is more than a beautiful face and a sculpted body.
I guess everyone deserves to be heard. It is a matter of courtesy. To receive people with grace whether they come from the rich famous or the simple. Give a chance to those whom you like for what he is not for what he has or the name. Fame, Fortune and Face fades in time. In the winter of life what remains is the quintessential intangible asset. Tough as it may seem but that’s how it simply is. Relationships are forged in truth because time reveals everything. A single lie discovered is enough to create doubt in every truth expressed.
Courtship, begins with something with you like with each other. Courtship needs time and space. It’s like a pair of shoes that you learn to wear. It grounds the relationship that you are going to walk with. True Love is finding the other half of the pod. It is never reaching too high or bending too low for you. Courtship is a time to know someone. It is finding time and giving time to it. Never throw a word or name call out of anger. One more thing keep the lines of communication open. Ask….Ask….Talk …. Talk…. with an open heart and mind. It works!
Friendships are carved over time. It serves as the foundation of long term relationship. In childhood, I remember my dad who used to tell my brothers there is no reason to compete with your sister. And yes, competition does erode shared goals even in casual friendship. Because you will be spending your time proving your worth than be TWO – gether. When “I” turns into “we”. Does not always mean losing your identity. It is of course learning how to work things together, focusing on what unites rather than divide, finding complementariness is to appreciate not to blame for what is not there.
Building a relationship means having a good support. It is important to have trusted friends, family and other people who will come your way. I was very lucky to have a trusted personal Driver who used to be my grandfather’s driver. He was refined and knows exactly how to handle people who were interested with my person. He is like the Butler who keeps an eye on everything around. His counsel is polished and tested as he is a witness to my family’s long political history. A good driver till the last of his days. The funny old man who taught me to maneuver the streets at the age of 13. He who would stop all other cars or public transport because my engine stopped General’s great granddaughter is passing by as he would always say. I would always blush with that. What more can a girl ask for when you are treated like a queen. Having a person who looks after your best interest. A person who can find the balance when you are almost giving up or infatuated to see the flaws. A person who will not influence your decision but guide you. A person who will not vest his personal preference through you. But look at the things as matter of fact. I had an auntie from my father side who patiently receives all my messages. An auntie who balances my dad. Having someone to share your stories is important especially with teenagers nowadays; naiveté and innocence are two different things. It is nice to come home to someone who smiles with you, finds meaning in your fleeting fancies and crushes. They who will only seek what will make your life fulfilled. Happiness is not a matter of having rather being happy.
Traditional parents have an odd way of entertaining visitors. My dad had a funny way of telling my visitor to leave. He would say that it’s time for me to sleep at midday “xxtreozy??? Huh?” He smiles amusingly when the young lad coyly finds his way out of the house. I remember when a classmate was allowed to drive the car for me. He gave him a hard time with lot of questions before the car keys were given. But despite all these scrutiny, my dad will always know where my heart is. At 12, my dad collects all the roses and throws them in the trash can before I could even appreciate the roses or letters. With due consideration, it must be frustrating without receiving an acknowledgment for the token. For parents, there can be fear losing control over one’s child but remember not to suffocate your own lest you lose them permanently. A young Child finds security in being commanded but an adolescent needs to be commended. Above all, bear in mind that your Child is your child but you don’t own their LIFE. Beneath the mask of Lola Nidora, Lola Tidora and Lola Tinidora is the voice of gentle persuasion of the one who seeks only what is best.
My lola Nana attends all my social functions. After all, I grew up attending senior citizens’ gathering. She has her funny gestures which I found at first embarrassing. When my college crush visits me, my lola Nana sits with us. It was more than a ruler apart. hahaha. And Yes the “No touch thing” means not even a finger touches. Showered with utmost respect and treated a “Lady” classmates, friends and friends of my brothers’ who are able to come closer kiss my hand to greet or congratulate. Flattering, yes it was but I did not demand for it, it was done with pleasure.
The implication of the “No touch thing” is to “Stay with someone who touches your soul more than your body.” It has a much deeper meaning, it is the warmth of affection that brings two people together and the flame within the soul unites. Don’t lose your head over your heels. It is not the fleeting burning passion but the call to be one – One Soul, One Heart, and One Body.
My family is extreme to the extent my maternal grandmother keeps a boy’s haircut for me from childhood. My mother made me wear boy style clothes where my aunties kept feminine dresses for me. I found it ridiculous but
I didn’t mind it as much. My aunties were more than twice stricter about it most especially if the one before me is a crush. Only a few earned the trust to walk me home from school.
Life is not always a bed of roses – when things go awry as sometimes will. My Lola Nana is the best friend who comforts the coldness of a harsh and judgmental world. She would calmly remind me of how beautiful my soul is and get up put things in one piece.
No life is without an antagonist. It keeps the balance. All stories have characters to speak of. As Lola Nidora worries over the arrival of Lola Isadora. A bit of a sting though. Living a life under the shadow of another person is very difficult. The tree and fruit are always judged but the case is not always the same. Popular as it has always been, the limelight can also be a challenge. I am blessed to have friends who liked me just as I am. Nonetheless, to be recognized for the person you truly are is a gift of friendship. One who reminds you that you are different and but tells you are special to him above the rest spells all the difference between friends and lovers. The person who cares about you only thinks of being with you.
”To every mother who willingly relinquished something cherished as time, token and effort to make someone special happy my respect has always been. “ Travelled from distant places searching. Made every effort to make her son meet you, is something I am most honoured. An English professor from the University of the Philippines and Harvard, wished a daughter in law took both time and effort long after class was over. To be handpicked by a mother says it all. I am humbled by it.
Though you will not win the approval of them all for one reason or another, the cue is to remain with grace and composure. It is best to remember you are not there of crave for their acceptance. The rejection should not make you less than what you are. To respect their views and simply be the best that you are is what defines you. No one has the right to judge you so keep your poise. The insufficiency of kindness must not make you bitter or take the sunshine off your face. In your own special way be a light of grace and blessing in the ever changing seasons of life.
“In life, you will realize that different people come and pass each with a role, some will test your wits or prove your character, some will use you, some may teach you and some will love you. But the ones who are truly important are those who brings out the best in you, they are the rare and amazing persons who remind you why it’s worth and why life is beautiful.”
The TV Show is the contemporary Metaphor of a life of a Rose. I can only wish though that with the ever changing public moral compass of anything goes, every boy grows up choosing to be a gentleman where every girl remains kind and simple.
MARIA LOURDES A. DE VERA is an artist-author, a registered nurse and a licensed professional teacher. Known to her students and other children under her tutelage as Teacher Marielou, she is friendly, unconventional and fun. She spends time doing stuff to sustain her creative nature be it music, visual arts, literary or movement, all of which spice up her enthusiastic spirit.
She is the author of “Art and the Creation Stories”, published by Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc., a very useful book not only for educators but also for anyone who is willing to revive one’s noble calling in a life of creativity.
She is working on another book “Embraced by the Light, a journey to Love “ care in the end of days.